The 2019 Audi Q3 is a compelling crossover level of entry to the model

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—I am not usually one to gush over crossovers. However when Audi introduced its new Q3 to the New York Worldwide Auto Present earlier this 12 months, its seems received me over. From the surface it seems like a nine-tenths Q8 and all the higher for being much less imposingly massive. Open a door and the inside greets you with fashion-forward styling—together with orange Alcantara for those who’re daring—and an infotainment system that is higher than the rest on sale. It is properly priced for this extremely aggressive market section and an enormous leap ahead in comparison with the first-generation Q3.

However is the brand new Q3 pretty much as good to drive as it’s to have a look at? That is the query I went Nashville to reply.

The 2019 Q3 is constructed utilizing a Volkswagen Group structure known as MQB. This huge bucket of components and designs is used to make the entire group’s transverse-engine autos—all the things from the Audi TT to the VW Atlas. The brand new Q3 is larger than the mannequin it replaces, having grown 3.8 inches (97mm) in size, 0.7 inches (18mm) in width, and 1.5 inches (38mm) in top. (Size: 176.6in./4,486mm, width: 72.8in./1,849mm, top: 64.1in./1,628mm) A lot of the improve in size—3 inches (76.2mm) to be exact—was added to the wheelbase, a lot to the advantage of rear seat passengers.

All US-spec Q3s get an equivalent powertrain. The engine is a 2.0L TFSI (gasoline, turbocharged, direct-injection) four-cylinder unit, which offers 228hp (170kW) and 258lb-ft (350Nm). An eight-speed Tiptronic computerized transmission is customary, as is all-wheel drive. The all-wheel drive is a clutch-based system, and as an alternative of locking mechanical differentials at every axle, the Q3 will brake particular person wheels when vital. The US Q3 additionally solely will get a single specification of springs and dampers, that are tuned to US roads and driving kinds. (European Q3 patrons have a alternative of engines, transmissions, and suspension choices.)

Competitively priced to rivals

The US buyer does nonetheless get to make a number of choices about their Q3. The vary begins at $34,700 for a Q3 or $36,000 for a Q3 S line, which comes with completely different entrance and rear bumpers and 19-inch wheels as customary (the Q3s within the pictures are all S line variations). The bottom trim is named Premium, and it consists of leather-based seats (heated for the entrance row), an eight-way energy seat for the driving force, auto-dipping LED headlights, computerized emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and an 8.8-inch touchscreen MMI infotainment system with Android Auto and wi-fi CarPlay.

Premium Plus is an extra $1,600 and provides even higher LED headlights, parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, wi-fi charging on your cellphone, and a powered passenger seat. It additionally unlocks a pair extra possibility packages. The $2,000 Navigation pack provides the newest model of Audi’s Digital Cockpit driver show and the identical 10.1-inch MMI infotainment system present in greater Audis just like the A7 and e-tron. And adaptive cruise management is a separate $800 possibility.

For S line fashions, there’s additionally a $500 sport inside. That will get you completely different powered seats with higher bolstering and a special multifunction steering wheel. A greater deal might be the $42,900 Q3 S line Status. This will get all that stuff as customary, plus a Bang & Olufsen sound system.

General, the pricing is aggressive with rivals like BMW’s X2 or Volvo’s XC40. The Q3 may do higher when it comes to gas effectivity, although, at 22mpg mixed (19mpg metropolis, 27mpg freeway). That is worse than AWD XC40s or X2s, though not like these vehicles, the Q3 can use common gasoline as an alternative of premium.

Appears to be like nice however boring to drive

When automakers let journalists free in a brand new mannequin for the primary time, the writers normally select someplace with nice roads and never a lot site visitors. This occasion was no exception, and in the fitting automotive, the countryside exterior of Nashville actually delivers an epic drive.

Regardless of its sporty seems, the Q3 shouldn’t be that automotive. The steering by no means tells you a lot about what the entrance tires are as much as, however you possibly can most likely assume the reply is “understeer.” You possibly can add weight by placing the automotive in Dynamic mode, however heavier shouldn’t be the identical as extra communicative.

Between the numb steering, understeer, a little bit of physique roll, and a transmission that typically leaves you ready, the Q3 shouldn’t be a crossover you need to take by the scruff of the neck on a twisty highway. Audi has a kind of in Europe. It is known as the RS Q3, and it makes use of the 400hp engine from the TT-RS I favored a lot. However the firm says there isn’t any actual marketplace for a automotive like that stateside, even when journalists salivate on the thought. If you’d like a fun-to-drive crossover, my suggestion stays the Mazda CX-5. (Audi additionally says there are not any plans to convey the even better-looking Q3 Sportback to the US.)

Jonathan Gitlin

Method the Q3 with out ideas of nook carving and you will have a significantly better expertise. The experience high quality is nice with out a lot deterioration when fitted with greater 20-inch wheels. The cabin is fantastic, and the again seat is now far more spacious. Though I fell in love with the orange Alcantara possibility again in April, I do not know if I might select that ($150) possibility if I used to be a father or mother. And it does really feel a bit cheeky for Audi to cost $350 for rear facet airbags reasonably than making them customary gear.

However past that, there’s little to complain about. The ten.1-inch touchscreen MMI infotainment actually is the very best system in the marketplace as we speak, and on this occasion retains bodily buttons for generally used controls like local weather settings. Most fashions will include wi-fi cellphone charging, and there are two USB-A and a USB-C port for the entrance seats and a second pair of USB-A ports for the rear passengers.

And from the surface, the Q3 is an actual looker.

Luxurious crossovers like this one have an fascinating problem. They should be an inexpensive entry level however with out a lot cost-cutting that the qualities for which the model is understood are diluted out. Right here, the 2019 Q3 makes a compelling case as an entry level to the Audi model. Whether or not you suppose it is higher or worse than a Volvo XC40 most likely comes down as to if you like German or Swedish design.

Itemizing picture by Jonathan Gitlin

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